23 September 2017

Shane

One Christmastime, during my university days, I secured a job as a temporary night watchman. It was at a caravan (American: trailer) factory on Swinemoor Lane in Beverley.

The first night I turned up early for my shift so that Bob, the head security man, could show me the ropes. I entered the small reception building by the factory gates and was taken into the back room.

"Don't be scared!" laughed Bob. "He'll not hurt you!"

A massive hirsute Alsatian or German Shepherd was nuzzling my groin with his big snout. Bob said that his name was Shane, Every three hours through the night it would be my responsibility to lead Shane round the factory complex so that he could sniff out potential trouble such as intruders or electrical faults.

After showing me the key box and providing emergency phone numbers, Bob walked me round the factory where thirty odd caravans were in different stages of construction - from skeletal chassis to upholstered palaces on wheels.

Soon I was back in the reception building. The working day was finishing. Workers clocked out and before too long there was just me alone on that five acre factory site with Shane. It was already pitch dark

I made myself a mug of tea and switched on the radio. Shane seemed to be eyeing me as if I was a massive juicy bone but Bob had promised that he would not hurt me. At about nine o'clock it was time to do our first tour of the factory. I picked up Shane's lead and he was up off his bed under the counter like lightning with his big pink tongue lolling and his tail wagging like a huge furry metronome.

We circled the factory, checking doors and entered the administration building with its shiny boardroom. I even had a swivel on the chairman's leather seat. It was like a throne.

Over the next four weeks I became very attached to Shane. He was always excited to see me. Between factory tours, I did university work, listened to the radio and drank tea.

One bleak, wintry night someone pressed the buzzer on the locked side gate. Shane went wild, barking like The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was two night cops. They were after a rest and a chinwag in the warm reception building and perhaps a cup of tea too. Apparently, they had been expecting Steve, the regular nightwatchman to be on duty. I think Shane recognised them so he soon settled down. They never came back which was fine with me. Police officers always made me feel rather uncomfortable.

Another night as we were walking round the factory perimeter, Shane growled and then barked. He pulled me to one of the rear doors. I unlocked it and let Shane inside. Thirty seconds later he returned with a workman's flat cap clamped in his jaws.  What an amazing sense of smell he had!

And one lazy Sunday afternoon as I was reading "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner, Shane's ears pricked up. He was up from his bed and barking like crazy. I led him to the perimeter fence and far away - perhaps half a mile - across the flat marshland that bordered the factory I could just make out  two or three kids playing. That's what Shane had noticed. What amazing hearing he had!

That month long temporary job was the best one I ever had. I was paid handsomely and most of the time I was sitting in a warm room, reading or studying, drinking tea and listening to the radio with my new best friend - Shane. So you see that in spite of my antipathy towards dogs, I have known that special wordless bond that dog owners often feel.

25 comments:

  1. There's hope for you yet, YP, in terms of canine affection. In answer to your commment on the previous post, I would LOVE another dog, but at present I am out of the house too much caring for my elderly mun for it to be fair to the dog. They are social animals and usually hate being left alone.

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    1. Oh yeah, I forgot about your mum ADDY... not something you are ever able to do these days.

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  2. You write of Shane with very obvious affection. It's made me smile

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    1. I'm happy as long as you are smiling and not laughing at me Kylie!

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  3. I'm glad to know that you don't totally dislike dogs. Shane sounds like a very good boy.

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    1. A very clever boy - just like me though I don't sniff people's groins or bark while yanking on my chain.

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  4. I, too, am glad to know that you don't completely dislike dogs. You can have some idea of how we feel about our canine friends.
    In answer to your question the other day - my yellow Lab. is called Inca, and she's the sweetest dog, rather timid, but oh, so nosy !

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    1. They say that dogs take after their owners CG - sweet, timid and nosy! Do you also chew bones?

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    2. No, not these days - I understand it's not politically correct !

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  5. I loved As I Lay Dying and also The Sound and The Fury and Sanctuary and all the strange people from Yoknapatawpha County. Have you read Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon?

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    1. No I haven't read that Bob. Will it be worth my while? You have aroused my curiosity.

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  6. Clearly you was able to show that there can be a lot more to a dog than it simply stinking a house out. Assets that your not going to get from the average domestic moggie that you so like, in fact what can domestic moggies do other than shit in neighbours gardens and kill their wildlife.

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    1. When you have a gang of cats you can teach them to terrorise the wardens of nature reserves.

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    2. Ah but sometimes the wardens have terriers that don't like cats, one of my terriers did in fact kill two feral cats on the reserve.

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    3. The Medway Cats Protection League Charity Shop is on Franklin Road in Gillingham. Why not make amends by dropping off some of your unwanted clutter - including your Faulkner tartan kilt, your cocker spaniel sporran, your library of "Penthouse" magazines and your spare deer stalker hat?

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  7. This is a sweet story, YP. And it seems to have appeased all the dog lovers :)

    I did have to chuckle at your astute use of "hirsute" . . .

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    1. I was receiving death threats from dog lovers so I had to do something to nullify their aggression and put them off the scent!

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  8. I expect you felt safer patrolling with Shane at night.

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    1. The factory was a spooky place to be in the middle of the night.

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  9. Dogs senses are amazing. We have no idea how much better their senses are than ours.

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    1. Especially their sense of smell.

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  10. They're a beautiful dog, the German Shepherd/Alsatian.

    A couple of months ago I had a chat with one sitting in the back of a tradesman's ute parked in a bay at my local supermarket. The dog's owner had popped into the newsagency. The dog, a big fellow, was whimpering like a little puppy as he waited for his master's return. He was crying and staring at the shop into which the fellow had disappeared. I had to smile...such a large, beautiful dog showing so much emotion. When the guy arrived on the scene, we, too, had a chat. His dog, though, big was still only a pup, really. It was 18 months old...a beautiful animal.

    And, yes...in case you're wondering (I know you're dying to make comment)...I often do chat with dogs as I walk past a car and see them sitting, patiently -sometimes, impatiently - waiting in their owner's car in the supermarket car-park.

    As I wrote yesterday...more often than not I find animals make more sense than humans so! :)

    A nice story, Yorkie. :)

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    1. Thanks Lee. Not only are you a cat woman, you are also a dog woman!

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  11. Oh such a heartwarming story YP, I really like the way you bonded with that dog, they have a way with people some dogs. I'm living life without dog and has done so for quite a few years. I got allergic and then we had two girls and the need for a dog to get busy and have interesting things to do and devoted company to enjoy, somehow faded. Now we are searching for a dog that I could stand without being hosptalized. IS THAT A DRAWING OF A DOG?????? Or is it a picture, I can't tell. Beautiful, anyway!!! And I loved your post on the South Koreans, we are much in to them in our house, and my girls wants you to know that all the members in their favourite band has a dog, except Park Jimin who is a catlover. But still......
    Having dogs in the house makes one feel safe, they need it in these days of missiles and utter lunacy!!!

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  12. Well, that's good. I'm glad you've experienced the dog bond. But it doesn't really count unless you're also paying the vet bills. :)

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